Our final debate argued that educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. It was one for the books. Jacquie and Mike opened the argument with a well done video in favour of this. They focused on how essential social justice is in our schools and how it is important for us to teach our students about things that are happening in our world. So often they are focused on what is happening within their own circle, they are oblivious to the bigger picture. If it does not directly affect them then they are not following. They brought up four components of why this is import:
– it challenges and confronts stereotypes
– provides students with resources needed to learn to their full potential
– it draws on student talents and strengths like language, culture and personal experiences
– it promotes critical thinking
I felt these were four great ways to summarize what they felt was important. As educators, our job is to teach our students and provide them with the information they need in order to form their own opinions and make their own choices. We cannot push our own opinions on them. We need them to think critically of the situation and use that background knowledge we have provided them to take their own stand.
Our current state of the world is a prime example of young people fighting for social justice. Between the opinions on the covid-19 pandemic, #BlackLivesMatter movement and many other situations, our society is full of opinions and opportunities to fight for social justice. I believe these topics are full of learning opportunities in the classroom based on some discussions you could be having with your students. I also think some biases and own personal views could come into play and educating on all sides would tough. Teaching the facts over opinions is what is important. Let the students form their own opinions when they have received ALL the facts! If we want to see a change in regards to social justice, it comes from educating our youth!
Another point Mike made was that there are three types of a justice oriented citizens. There is the person that is a personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen and the justice-oriented citizen. I really appreciated that as the discussion went on and someone made a comment about a specific situation, Mike would chime in what kind of justice oriented citizen that person was portraying. It was very subtle but also drove home the point that they were trying to make. I really felt Mike and Jacquie were meant to debate. They had a long list of facts and famous people to quote. They really knew their material and were very persuasive speakers. I can only imagine how engaged their students are when they are teaching on a topic they are passionate about.
Brad and Michala came back with a great argument. The video was entertaining. I knew Brad would come up with something fantastic but I never imagined we would get to see so many sides of him. On a more serious note, the one thing I really took away from their side of the debate was that yes teaching about social justice is important but using social media as a platform is not the best approach. I thought Brad’s example of his own teaching experience was a great reflection on this. The internet trolls (which they also mentioned) jumped to conclusions and made assumptions about a project that really was a great learning opportunity, improved our community and was student-lead.
Social media often leaves out important parts of a story and people can get the wrong impression. It is not always the best way to share information. When Michala made the comment about big meetings are always done in person. They are not completed over the phone or online. It is through face to face discussion because they are more valuable, genuine and productive when you can be in another’s presence. This made me think of my current IIP meetings. In June, I am often having multiple meetings with families to talk a students growth over the year and the next steps moving forward. They are also done with a team in a group setting around one table. Sometimes those conversations are tough and being in a room together is important. I have really noticed that this spring as those meetings are now being done over zoom. The connection and productivity of those meetings is just not at the same caliber. Some conversations are just meant to be in person. Like Alyssa mentioned in the chat, “I think we have a lot of valuable discussions in our classrooms because everyone involved knows it is a safe space. Online does not feel like a safe space like how Michala was talking about her daughter’s experience”.
As with most of the debates we have had, I leave feeling both sides made great points. Social Justice is important and needs to be taught in our classrooms but the approach we use is what we need to be cautious about. Moderation again is important and knowing when to post something online and how we go about the post is what we need to be aware of. I leave another debate reflecting on my own practices and how I can be better!